Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/363

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General Joseph E. Johnston. 357

and the apex on the river, Lee might have attacked Hancock with possible thirty-six thousand infantry. But, as an able officer sug- gests,* Hancock was intrenched, and Lee well knew the advantage that gave, and that he could not afford to suffer the inevitable loss. Those who would make the Atlanta campaign exactly like Chancel- lorsville should remember that, from the last day's fight at the Wil- derness to Appomattox, Lee attacked no more; that from this time on Lee fought only behind entrenchments; that what could be done in 1863, could not necessarily be done in 1864.

The whole criticism of Johnston strangely forgets, that the victori- ous results at Second Manassas and Chancellorsville were the conse- quences of Jackson's spring upon the rear of Pope and Hooker ; and not because Jackson suffered himself to be in their predicament. The question presented to Johnston at Rocky Face was, not whether he would do like Stonewall Jackson, but whether he would deliber- ately do like the generals whom Stonewall Jackson defeated.

Every man in authority is the shepherd of a trust ; but what so sacred as the general's lives that will step to death at his bidding. Of all fiduciaries none has such account to render as he who is com- missioned to wage the fight of a people. Human life is the talent laid in his hand, to be poured out like water, if unto him it seemeth good. Of all trusts and talents this is the one to be wisely used, and in no wise abused. The policy of Johnston was not the step forward which would slide three steps back, but the step back which would find the strength to stride trebly forward. It was the drawing back of the ram's foot to strike with the horns.

The movement from Dalton began on the i2th of May. Folk's advance under Loring, and Polk himself, reached Resaca from Demopolis, Ala., on the same day. French's division of the same army joined near Kingston several days later, and Quarles's brigade at New Hope church on the 26th. One may be permitted to believe that Johnston incurred as large risk as could be exacted of a soldier and a patriot when he left the whole protection of his rear to the expected arrival of this much -hurried reinforcement. The position taken at Resaca to meet the movement through Snake Creek Gap was made untenable in consequence of a similar movement by Sher- man towards Calhoun the last movement being covered by a river, as the former was by a mountain. But the ground in the neighbor- hood of Cassville seemed to Johnston favorable for attack, and as

  • General A. A. Humphreys.